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Junior ‘A’ Hockey returns to Whistler


University hockey to debut in mid September

The Burnaby Bulldogs B.C. Junior ‘A’ hockey team will be returning to Whistler on Sept. 3 to take on the Langley Hornets in an exhibition game at Meadow Park arena. Tickets are $20 for a family of four, $10 for adults, and $5 for kids 15 and under, with all proceeds going towards the Whistler Minor Hockey Association (WMHA).

"I figure we could probably raise more money with a bottle drive, but I figure it’s better to watch some hockey," says Kerry Dennehy, who is helping to coordinate the event with the WMHA. "It’s exhibition, which means that there are guys out there trying to make the team, so the players go extra hard. It’s great hockey to watch."

Last year the Bulldogs took on the Chilliwack Chiefs, thanks largely to the efforts of two Whistler players – Matt Gibbons was the Chiefs’ captain and Tyler Dufor was a forward on the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs prevailed in that game by a final score of 6-2.

Unfortunately, Dufor had sustained a head injury in the previous game and was unable to play for his home crowd. He has since been awarded a scholarship to play Division I NCAA hockey for Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

Gibbons had an excellent game in front of his home crowd, but his time on the ice was cut short when he was ejected for fighting in the second period. He is still with the Chiefs, although they are still evaluating players for the 2001/2002 roster.

Neither the Bulldogs or the Hornets have any Whistler content, but with the Canucks no longer training in town, Dennehy says it is was important to bring some high profile events to Whistler. "The people in town are into it, and it’s good for the kids to see hockey at that level, it pumps them up for the season," says Dennehy.

It was easy to convince the clubs to host an exhibition event in Whistler. "They like it here. They know Team Canada trained up here, they know it’s suitable for the Canucks. The arena is good, the ice is great – we’ve been told by some of the Canuck players that the ice up here is better than in most of the arenas they play in," says Dennehy.

In the third weekend of September, Whistler will play host to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, who will take on the University of Alberta Golden Bears, one of the top teams in the country in recent years.

"It will be good for the kids to see the difference between the Junior A and University players," says Dennehy. "This is the time of the year when kids register, and hopefully we can get them excited about hockey."

If the hockey doesn’t do it, hopefully the free popcorn will.

For the Bulldogs-Hornets game the puck drops at noon. Tickets are available at the door.

It was standing room only last year, so fans should be there a little early to get a seat.